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Series: Dragontales — no. 2
Translated Into: La Cueva del Rey de la MontaƱa (Spanish)
Author: Vilott-Salsitz, Rhondi
Illustrators: Hallman, Tom (cover)
Gilbert, Michael (interior)
Date: July, 1984
ISBN: 0451130839 / 9780451130839
Length: 203 pages (introductory section plus 55 "Pathways")
Number of Endings: 21
User Summary: You are a young shepherd, and your boring life is enlivened a bit when your grazing trip leads you to a crystal-filled tunnel leading deep into the realm of the dwarf king.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book is both better and worse than its predecessor. Its use of romance is much more restrained and subtle than the last book's, but at the same time it's also less believable because the reader's potential romantic interest is (to me at least) a really irritating character. As in the last book, the fantasy elements on display are fairly generic in nature (except perhaps for some unusual dragon flies and the unfortunately-named Mud Goons). As before, though, this doesn't prevent the adventure from being satisfying -- although I wasn't surprised by anything that happened, I still managed to enjoy the trip. I have only a few other minor complaints. First of all, some of the writing is a bit awkward; there are some word and punctuation choices that bothered me a bit. Secondly, the pacing and continuity aren't always right -- at one point, I ran into the dwarf king and couldn't help feeling that I'd missed something, even though I really hadn't. At another point, I was asked if I wanted to use one of the old man's gifts when I hadn't actually run into the old man on that adventure. I also wasn't too pleased by the inclusion of a space-wasting "give up and don't have an adventure" choice. Finally, the challenge level is fairly low; I reached an optimal ending on the first try without feeling too stressed out by any of the choices along the way. It turns out that this is because there are a lot of successful paths through the book. Since I always find it harder to motivate myself to replay a gamebook after a successful ending than after a failure, I would probably have missed out on a lot of the interesting events of the book if I had not been motivated to read it thoroughly for reviewing purposes. Ultimately, this book won't challenge your decision-making skills too much, nor will it change the way you think about fantasy... but it's not a bad way to kill an hour or two, or even more if your motivation to replay is stronger than mine.

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Kveto's Thoughts:

This series has become my substitute for the Endless Quest series, as it feels really similar in style and substance. In this book you play a shepherd with the unlikely name of Kevin, who accidentally discovers the entrance to the Dwarf King's cavern. Along the way, you can meet monsters, an evil Baron, a very headstrong sarcastic princess and even the dwarf King, who had the most potential to be interesting.

Overall, it's decent, but with the usual "Give up and go home" type of choices which really show unoriginality on the part of the author. And there appear to be a few continuity errors, but it's overall a fun romp. The only thing that annoyed me was the main character in a fantasy world having the very 1980s name "Kevin." It pulls you out of the fantasy world. (And this coming from a guy named Kvetoslav). I half expected Kevin's friends "Brad" and "Troy" to invite him over to play some Atari.

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